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Coronavirus: The Dutch Response Posted by on Mar 10, 2020 in Culture, News, Travel

Het coronavirus (the coronavirus) has reached Europe, including the Netherlands. While landen (countries) like Italy have decided that a landelijke quarantaine (country-wide quarantine) is the right way to contain the virus, what do the Dutch do? And how do they react? Let’s have a look, while also learning some Dutch!

The Government’s Advice

Image by Micheile Henderson at Unsplash.com

So far, the situation in the Netherlands is relatively relaxed. With 382 besmettingen (infections) and 4 doden (deaths) (as of March 10), the virus is definitely a reality, though. But, as we have seen in other countries, the virus can spread quickly, especially if left unchecked. So what’s the response of the Dutch?

Initially, it was very calm. The Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM) (Royal Institute for Public Health and Environment) even put out videos for the first two besmettingen, detailing what had happened. Here’s the first one, when a patient was diagnosed with the virus on February 27:

The overheid (government) responds through advies (advice) by the RIVM. On their website, they have a dedicated page for the ziekte (disease) caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19. While that page gives you a lot of information, there is a free hotline if you have questions about the virus, too. The advies consists of what we’ve seen: handen wassen (washing hands), hoesten (coughing) and niezen (sneezing) in the binnenkant van de elleboog (inside of the elbow); geen handen schudden (no handshaking) and één meter afstand tot anderen (one meter distance to others).

Those that are besmet and are showing symptomen (symptoms), the GGD (Geneeskundige Gezondheidsdienst) (Medical Health Service) follows where they were prior to the besmetting and who else they were in contact with. With luchtwegklachten (airway complaints) and koorts (fever), it is recommended that you stay thuis (home), in so-called thuisquarantaine (home quarantine). If in addition, you’ve also been in touch with somebody that was in the risicogebieden (risk areas), or if you yourself have been there in the past 14 days, you should contact your huisarts (general practitioner) telefonisch (by phone).

Especially the province of Noord-Brabant is affected, with most besmettingen in the country. Bijeenkomsten (gatherings) of more than 1000 mensen (people) are verboden (prohibited). The overheid is also urging people in that province to work from home for the coming days.

People’s Opinion

But what about the mensen? Are they bezorgd (concerned)?

In a kwart (quarter) of scholen (schools), there are reports of ouders (parents) keeping their kinderen (children) at home because of the coronavirus, even if there is no indication of specific risk of besmetting at a school. And many take the zekere voor het onzekere (“the safe for the unsafe” – better safe than sorry) and work from home if they can.

But most people, at least in Den Haag, think it is going to be fine, and it is all a bit overdreven (overblown). For now, the Dutch don’t seem to be too alarmed. Let’s hope that they don’t have to be and that this, indeed, komt allemaal wel goed (will all be fine).

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator and filmmaker.


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